“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” -- Ephesians 2:8-9
With all the babble, confusion, and religious nonsense there is in this world, -- in this age when the house of God seems to lie in a heap of ruins, -- in this day of obvious divine judgment, -- in this day in which we and our fathers have been kindling the wrath of God for generations, burning incense to other gods, it would be wise for us to go through all the ruins of God’s house, like Hilkiah, the high priest during the days of Josiah, and search for the Book of God. Like that faithful man pick it up, dust it off, and read it. Then, after reading it, like that godly young king, we would be wise to inquire of the Lord concerning the words of this Book.
I think it would be both wise and profitable for us to lay aside our church creeds, catechisms, and confessions of faith, all of them! Lay aside our theology books, religious papers, religious traditions, customs, and even the opinions of great men of the past. How I wish we could do that! How I wish I could get men and women to simply hear what God says in his Word about his salvation! Try to forget, for just a little while, what Calvinism says about salvation, what Arminianism says about salvation, and what Catholicism says about salvation, and try to find out what God says salvation is. Can you do that? Can you lay aside everything you have ever thought, heard, and learned about salvation from all other sources, and look into the Word of God to see what God has to say about this thing called salvation?
At the very outset I want you to see that everywhere salvation is spoken of in Holy Scripture, everywhere it is illustrated, everywhere it is explained, it is presented to us just as it is right here in Ephesians 2:8-9. -- “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Here God the Holy Spirit tells us four things about God’s salvation. These four things are always characteristic of God’s saving operations. Wherever salvation is found, wherever salvation is experienced, these four things are both obvious and gladly acknowledged.
1. Salvation is by grace alone.
2. Salvation is through faith alone.
3. Salvation is in Christ alone.
4. This salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone is accomplished entirely without works of any kind on the part of the one who is saved.
Be sure you understand this. We are saved without works! Our relationship with God certainly determines what we do; but what we do, either good or bad, has absolutely nothing to do with our relationship with God. This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture. Salvation is the work of God alone, a gracious work of God wrought for and in chosen sinners, without their aid or assistance, through the mediatoral work of the Lord Jesus Christ and the gracious, irresistible operations of the Holy Spirit.
In this study, we will look at seven passages of Holy Scripture to see how God himself describes salvation. Here are seven Bible descriptions of salvation. It is not my present purpose to expound these various texts of Scripture in their context. I simply use them to demonstrate how God himself has described his great work of salvation in his Word. Salvation, as God describes it, is called…
The very first time the word “salvation” is used in the Word of God, it was used by Jacob in his prophetic words to his sons regarding the twelve tribes of Israel in Genesis 49:18. The old patriarch said, “I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.” Whatever the Bible teaches about salvation, it is talking about something that is the particular property and prerogative of God alone. “Salvation is of the Lord!” And “salvation is the Lord’s” (Ex. 12:13; 2 Chron. 20:15, 17; Isa. 40:10-11; 41:13-14).
Salvation is God’s work alone, God’s possession alone, and God’s prerogative alone. He gives it to whom he will. Tom Skinner, who has become a very popular heretic, said, “Since salvation is essentially the work of God alone, everything must depend upon man’s willingness to allow God to save him”. That is not the language of the Bible (John 1:11-12; Rom. 9:16). Whenever we think of salvation, we ought to remember these two words: -- “Thy Salvation.” “Salvation is the Lord’s.” It belongs to him, comes from him, and goes back to him. -- God planned it. -- God purchased it. -- God performs it. -- God preserves it. -- God perfects it. -- God shall have the praise for it.
“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the author of an “eternal salvation.” Though it was purchased at Calvary by Immanuel’s precious blood, though it is wrought in the hearts of chosen sinners, by God the Holy Spirit at the appointed time of love in regeneration, salvation is an eternal work of God. It was devised and secured, predestinated and purposed, and, in the mind of God, it was performed, finished, and perfect in the covenant of grace before the world began. Read your Bible and you will see that this is so.
It really does not matter what Calvinism, Arminianism, or all the creeds and confessions in the world say about the matter. The only thing that really matters is this: What does the Book of God say? The Book of God declares that God’s salvation is an “eternal salvation.” Christ is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). All who believe on Christ in time were loved of God, chosen, adopted and predestined to salvation before God made the worlds (Eph. 1:4-6). We were redeemed, justified, called and glorified in Christ from eternity (Rom. 8:28-30). We were accepted in the Beloved before we were ruined in Adam (Eph. 1:6). We were blessed of God with all spiritual blessings of salvation and grace in Christ before the worlds were made (Eph. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). Our salvation in time is neither more nor less than the outworking of our “eternal salvation” in Christ.
“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:1-3).
Certainly, Jude does not mean for us to think of God’s salvation as something that is ordinary and cheap. Not on your life! But he does mean for us to understand that salvation is the same wherever it is found. It is the same in the experience of all who are saved. Every true child of God has experienced and possesses the same common salvation. All are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
We do not all experience grace the same way. Paul’s experience was not the same as Lydia’s. Both experienced the same grace, but not the same way. The experience of grace is not always the same. Our needs are the same. The grace is the same. The results are the same. But the experience of grace varies greatly. Still, all who are saved possess and enjoy “the common salvation.” All who are born of God have a common Savior, a common family, a common hope, a common blessedness, and a common inheritance.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). What a blessed description this is of God’s salvation. If you are saved, the salvation you have is “your own salvation”. God devised it for you. Christ purchased it for you. The Holy Spirit brought it to you and wrought it in you. It is yours forever! If you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, all that is included in that word “salvation” is your personal property and possession forever. It belongs to you by the gift of the grace of God.
Here is an admonition. – “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” That does not mean, “Work that you might be saved”. It means, “Work outwardly what God has worked inwardly” (Phil. 2:1-5; Matt. 5:16; Tit. 3:8, 14). Here is an assurance. - “For it is God which worketh in you both to will (to desire) and to do of his good pleasure.” Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24. If you are saved, the salvation God has wrought in you is “your salvation”.
“So Great Salvation”
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?” (Hebrews 2:3). God’s salvation is called, “so great salvation” because it comes from the great God. It is salvation for great sinners. It comes to us through the merits of the great Savior. It flows to us from the great reservoir of God’s great mercy, love, and grace. It secures for us a great inheritance in heaven. So great is God’s salvation that no words can adequately describe it.
“But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end” (Isaiah 45:17) Salvation is eternal both ways. It is from everlasting and to everlasting. If salvation is God’s work, it is an everlasting work (Ecc. 3:14). Sinners saved by grace shall never perish. We are saved beyond the reach of condemnation, or even danger. God’s love is an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). God’s election is everlasting election (Mal. 3:6). God’s grace is everlasting grace (Rom. 11:29). Christ’s redemption is an everlasting redemption (Heb. 9:12). The Spirit’s seal is an everlasting seal (Eph. 1:14).
God’s salvation shall return to him in everlasting praise. We are repeatedly told, throughout the Old and New Testaments, that God’s reason for saving sinners is for the praise, honor, and glory of his own great name. So it shall be. The salvation of God’s elect shall bring forth everlasting praise to him.
This is what we are told in Revelation 7:9-12. “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
With this great salvation, we have the promise, “Ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.”
 This fact is beautifully and clearly illustrated in the healing of the blind men mentioned in Mark’s gospel (Mark 8:22-25 and 10:51-52). Both received the same blessing, by the same grace, from the same hands; but their experience of it was different.